Ranking the class of 2010

Washington's Nick Taylor

Now that the NCAA Championship is over, it’s time for many players to begin their professional careers. In other sports, we get the excitement and hoopla of a draft. Not golf.

But I tried to bring some of that excitement to our sport by asking four people who evaluate talent for a living to provide a “mock draft.” The participants ranked this year’s seniors in order of who they thought would have the most success as a professional. (Note: Juniors Matt Giles and Matt Hill were included because they’d made public declarations that they were not returning to college).

See who our participants thought would be the better Canadian, Nick Taylor or Matt Hill. Find out where Dustin Garza, who dominated at the mid-major level, ranked.

• • •

EAST-COAST COLLEGE COACH

1.) Matt Hill, N.C. St.

  • Has won on every level.
  • Dealt with the high expectations during college, which prepared him for the professional level.
  • Needs to just focus on playing golf at the next level, and not get caught up in the hype (that’s when he plays his best).

2.) Nick Taylor, Washington

  • 65 at the U.S. Open shows that no matter what course he’s on, he can go low.
  • Excellent at giving himself tons of chances to make birdies throughout the round – very consistent.
  • Gaining an extra 10-15 yards off the tee would make Nick that much better.

3.) Matt Giles, USC

  • One of the streakiest players in college golf – when he has it going he is very hard to beat.
  • Controls ball flight at a Tour-quality level.
  • Has to stay focused on golf and not get wrapped up in the distractions surrounding him.

4.) Dustin Garza, Wichita State

  • Has the talent to be an immediate success on Tour due to his persona – all he cares about is winning.
  • Fortunate to get the proper coaching from Wichita State head coach Grier Jones, a former PGA Tour player, to prepare him for the next level.
  • At times might play with too aggressive of a mentality – needs to manage expectations and learn to hit the safe shot.

5.) Andrea Pavan, Texas A&M

  • Naturally athletic physique provides the benefit that can’t be taught to other players – athleticism is having success at the next level.
  • Needs to control temper – highs are too high and lows are too low.

6.) Corey Nagy, Charlotte

  • Dedication to getting better is going to take him a long way.
  • Raw power is a key component for players to succeed on Tour, and Corey has that.
  • Can sometimes be a bit shaky with the putter – needs to build confidence.

7.) Richard Lee, Washington

  • Breakout potential after being overlooked due to teammate Nick Taylor – has the will to make his own name.
  • May struggle a bit after college because he will be on his own and not have the team atmosphere. Must handle extra responsibility of having wife and daughter.

8.) George Bryan IV, South Carolina

  • Has been able to contend on every level.
  • Understands the concept of getting it in the hole ASAP.
  • Better ball control tee-to-green will serve him well.

9.) Kevin Foley, Penn St.

  • Knows how to win and has been able to help PSU program get to the next level.
  • Body frame provides him with great speed and ability to hit all the shots.
  • Needs to make sure he doesn’t become too hesitant at the next level – needs to stay confident.

10.) Seamus Power, East Tennessee St.

  • Great junior career so he has had the ability to dominate at one point.
  • Lots of raw talent – really understands the concept of hitting the required shots at different times.
  • Needs to get back into the grind of focusing on golf – once school is done he will be able to get back to winning ways.

WEST-COACH COLLEGE COACH

1.) Nick Taylor, Washington

  • His record says it all. He is a very good ball-striker.
  • If there is something to improve upon, he needs to make more putts.

photo

N.C. State's Matt Hill at the 2009 NCAA Championship.

2.) Matt Hill, N.C. St.

  • Great record. Solid all-around game.
  • Probably a little distracted this year as he prepared to go pro after huge ’09 season.

3.) John Chin, UC Irvine

  • John knows how to win. He is quite long and has a great short game.
  • Will be interesting to see how he stacks up against elite players week-in and week-out.

4.) Dustin Garza, Wichita St.

  • He certainly is not afraid of winning. Showed that he can play with anybody with third-place finish at Western Refining All-American Classic.

5.) Corey Nagy, Charlotte

  •  Consistent player who has improved every year. Level-headed approach will serve him well in the pro game.

6.) Diego Velasquez, Oregon St.

  • Nice to see someone’s record get better every year. Diego has risen to a top player in the deepest conference.
  • He’s a charasmatic kid who would handle success quite well.
  • Not super long, but knows how to score.

7.) Andrea Pavan, Texas A&M

  • All-around good player who has put together a super strong season in his senior year.

8.) Matthew Giles, USC

  •  Did not play well most of the year, but coming on strong at the most important time.
  •  Has plenty of length and a great short game.

9.) Chris Ward, Texas Tech

  •  Winning the Big 12 Conference individual title is good enough for me. That conference has some can’t-miss Tour players, and he beat them all.

10.) Richard Lee, Washington

  • Is playing his best golf right now with high finishes at the Pac-10 tournament and the NCAA West Regional.
  •  Being married with child will keep his focus on becoming a great player very narrow, and that is a good thing.
  •  Not long but solid in every way.

AGENT

1.) Nick Taylor, Washington

  • Looks like he has the poise of a PGA Tour player already.
  • Rarely makes a big mistake and has great control in all departments of his game Weaknesses: Really…? Not sure I can see any!

2.) Dustin Garza, Wichita St.

  • Born to win, fiery attitude and self belief.
  • Either really good, or really bad! Needs to find a way to be more consistent in the weeks he is not in contention

3.) Matt Hill, N.C. St.

  • Like Taylor, very polished product and can hit all the shots.
  • Stock has dropped a fraction after an underwhelming 2009-10 season.

4.) Matt Giles, USC

  • Fierce competitor, hates to lose and very aggressive. Great iron player.
  • Like Hill, underwhelming 2009-10 season, attributable to some poor driving which he needs to keep under control. Has struggled with a wrist injury, though, but he admits he tried to come back too soon.

5.) Richard Lee, Washington

  • Even temperament is a strength, and has a great swing.
  • Consistency needs to improve, but he has lived in the shadow of Nick Taylor at Washington.

6.) Knut Borsheim, Arizona St.

  •  Very strong mental approach and an extremely intelligent player. Has a classic swing and he hits it as far as anyone out there.
  •  Putting is a weaknes. VERY inconsistent on the greens. This must be his focus when he turns professional.

7.) Andrea Pavan, Texas A&M

  • Tough competitor and great ball-striker. Made a strong run in his final season.
  • Driving could be improved.

8.) Victor Dubuisson, N/A

  •  Great shot-maker, fantastic vision and a flair for the game reserved for the French. Dubuisson, the European Am champ, has better than average distance. Watch for him at the British Open, where he’ll play his final event as an amateur.
  • See above... He can be a victim of his own flair and creativity, sometimes dropping shots by being overly aggressive. Certainly fun to watch, though.

9.) John Chin, UC Irvine

  • Size, strength and distance off the tee make this guy a legitimate contender out of the gate. Will represent USA at Palmer Cup in June.
  • Perhaps coming out of a smaller program like UC Irvine means his professional opportunities may be limited. But if he gets an opportunity, watch out!

photo

Oregon State's Diego Velasquez plays a shot into the 18th hole June 3 at the NCAA Championship.

10.) Diego Velasquez, Oregon St.

  • Aggressive birdie-maker, confident swagger and great shot-maker.
  • Inconsistency can be an issue within tournaments. Not a big guy and his size may prevent him becoming a top contender. Probably needs to pack on the size like Colombian compadre Camilo Villegas.

AGENT

1.) Nick Taylor, Washington

  • Absolute stud and will be an “ATM machine” on the PGA Tour.
  •  65 at Bethpage in Round 2 of U.S. Open last year… seriously?

2.) John Chin, UC Irvine

  •  Sleeper of the class even though he is ranked No. 2 in Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
  •  Strong kid and very consistent.
  •  Runner-up at 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links shows that he can get it done on the big stage.

3.) Matt Hill, N.C. State

  •  Slumped after going nuts in 2008-09, but still has the game to compete at the highest level for a long time.
  •  Will have his crack at several PGA Tour events this summer and fall thanks to some sponsor exemptions.

4.) Dustin Garza, Wichita State

  •  Knows how to win. Remind anyone of another kid (PGA Tour player Troy Merritt) who won seven times during his senior season at Boise State in 2008?

5.) Richard Lee, Washington

  •  Underrated because of playing in the shadow of Nick Taylor at Washington, but he always finds a way to keep his name on the leaderboard.

6.) Kevin Foley, Penn St.

  •  Another solid player who has won several collegiate events and the Sunnehanna, a rather prestigious amateur event.
  •  When the putter is hot, he can go low.

7.) Diego Velazquez, Oregon State

  •  Impressive senior year in Corvallis this year.
  •  The PGA Tour has already witnessed what another Colombian can do.

8.) George Bryan IV, South Carolina

  •  Really solid collegiate career with a few wins in some good fields, including a tie for first at the SEC Championship.

9.) Corey Nagy, Charlotte

  •  Very competitive. Has had the opportunity to play in just about everything while in college, which will give him confidence right away.

10.) Mitch Fedorka, University of La Verne

  • NCAA Division III Player of the Year in 2009.
  • Had a little bit of a drop his senior year, but very solid player that continues to impress his competition.
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